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In all my years of teaching Web Design, some of the most frequently ask questions that new designers ask centers around the building of and the functionality of Online Forms. In this chapter we'll examine using Dreamweaver to help us build in style, clean and accessible Forms. Unfortunately, making the forms functional is a bit outside the scope of this course. For more information on Processing Form Data, see any of the Dreamweaver Dynamic Development Titles in the lyda .com Online Training Library. However, before we begin building your Forms, it's important that you understand how Forms work and how websites generally process Form Data? One of the most popular misconceptions about forms is that the form itself does any work at all.
For the most part, forms merely collect data from your user and then send it to another page to be processed. This page is typically referred to, logically enough, as the Processing Page. This page often shows a message that gives the user feedback regarding the success of the form submittal. Therefore, when you log into a Website and see a page that says Thanks for logging in, chances are, that's the page that they did all the work. Forms are created by using a Form Tag. The Form Tag contains the Name of the form and a Method and an Action.
The Action tells the form what to do with the collected data, and this is typically a link to the Processing Page or Script. The Method describes how the form should send the Data? For the Method, there are two options Post and Get. Get Appends the Form Data to the query string, while Post submits the data in the head of the request document. That basically means that Form Data submitted with GET is visible in the page address after Submittal. While data submitted with Post is hidden to the end user.
The Submittal method you use will depend on how the processing script is expecting to receive the data and based on limitations of the submittal types. Data submitted with Get is less secure and risks being truncated to the query string length limitations. Therefore, Get is typically used for Non Critical Data and Short Form Data. Post is typically used for more secure transactions and for forms where longer data like User Comments are submitted. The Form Data is then sent to a processing page where Server-Side Software like ColdFusion PHP,.Net or JSP receives the data and processes it.
Often using SQL to submit and retrieve data from a database, based on the form request. This information isn't written to the database, returned to the user or any other myriad uses of form data. While this description is a somewhat simplified explanation of how forms work online, for most forms, this is the basic framework. Now that we have a greater understanding of how forms work, we can to turn our attention to building our own.
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